17th Vespa Giro dei Tre Mari 2023 Bari - Albania

Created by Ralf Jodl at 08:06 on June 30, 2023

The Giro dei Tre Mari (Tour of the Three Seas) has a long history. In 1953, at the instigation of the Agnelli family, it was brought to life and held as a competitive event. During our research, we found an article by Ilse Thoure from Roller Revue No. 6 from 1953, which makes very enjoyable reading. Six German male and female riders were at the start at that time and it was definitely a competition to be taken seriously. After the last Giro in 1964, interest in the race waned and it was in danger of being forgotten. If it hadn't been for a certain Vespa Club from Bari that revived this tradition in 2004.


With the Vespa to Albania

The enthusiasm was great and late registrations had to be turned away again and again, because the number of participants was limited to 150 riders. The tour along the coasts of the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian and Thyrrhenian Seas lost its tough competitive character, but became a long ride on a Vespa or Lambretta to discover new areas including gastronomy and culture. Five years ago, the first Special Edition took place: the Giro dei Tre Mari led to Albania. The tour was so popular that there was a new edition in 2023. And when Maurizio De Pasquale, President of the Vespa Club Bari, invited a delegation from the SIP Scootershop to take part, we didn't have to think twice. I was immediately hooked, because I had never been to Albania before. So I got my Vespa Rally 200 going and recruited André (GS 160) and Fabi (PX 200) from the SIP Scootershop and my friend Thomas (Motovespa). Lukas from Abgedreht was given a Vespa GTS 300, which he extensively retrofitted with cameras, cameras and other high-tech stuff. The adventure could begin. And then, on 29 May, it was off to Bari, Italy, to take the ferry to Durrës, Albania.

The Squadra SIP
From left: André, Ralf, Lukas, Fabi and Thomas

At the port in Bari, we were first impressed by how the Vespa Club Bari had organised this Giro. Everything went like clockwork. We were divided into small groups of "squadras", given a thick road book with all the information, start numbers, a sim card for Albania and all kinds of goodies. Exemplary! Then we embarked and experienced a great sunset on board the ferry with a magnificent view of the sea and the coast. The next morning, the 150 participants went ashore with their scooters in Durrës, Albania.

Tuesday: On to Lake Ohrid

We headed purposefully for a bar at the harbour for coffee and a hearty breakfast. In the meantime, the first squadras went to the official start and at some point we also saddled up our Vespas and headed towards Pogradec, on the southern shore of Lake Ohrid. We rode on small roads that were in surprisingly good shape and got a first impression of the wild landscape. At the end of the drivers' field were two so-called "broom wagons", which offered help in case of need. To say it in advance: we were spared from them. Man and machine held out.

The lake itself is located in the centre of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Nature and Culture. It belongs mostly to Macedonia, is one of the oldest lakes on earth and up to 288 metres deep. Our hotel in Pogradec was right on the shore of this body of water and we spent the rest of the day exploring the charming town, enjoying excellent food, tasting cold drinks and greeting fellow travellers from England, Italy and France. Among them were old acquaintances like Sticky, Michele and Dean from Casa Performance and Roberto from Barone Racing.

Drive through Albania
Roadside encounter

Wednesday: On the Vespa to Macedonia

First thing in the morning we were taken over by Albanian radio and television, because the Giro seems to be a big deal and is also promoted by the Ministry of Culture. I gave a few interviews and when the media hustle and bustle was over, we decided to head north, always along the lake shore, to enter Macedonia at the Kjafasan border crossing. The landscape is wild, tourism is not yet widespread and the lake offered a constantly picturesque backdrop. Finally, the arrival in the small town of Ohrid, with about 40,000 inhabitants the largest settlement on the lake. We had a look at the pretty old town, dined extensively and drove back to our hotel in Pogradec towards evening. Albania's cuisine is very Balkan-oriented. Lots of meat, fresh salads and spicy cheese.

At Lake Ohrid
Break with a view of Lake Ohrid

Thursday: In the capital

On the partly familiar route, we had a big destination: Tirana, the capital of Albania. We reached the metropolis in the late afternoon and I was soon reminded of Athens. The city is extremely lively and vibrant. Lots of bars, pubs and restaurants, and a colourful hustle and bustle on the streets. Moreover, the Albanians seem to have a preference for pimped-out limousines with the star, because you see them on every corner. Tirana is no longer as exotic as the other parts of the country. The flair of western capitalism blows unchecked through the streets. We immersed ourselves in the hustle and bustle and spent a happy evening in the capital.

Arrival in the capital

Friday: On the trail of Skanderbeg

Actually, the Albanian folk hero was called George Kastrioti, but the vernacular reverently calls him "Skanderbeg". The man rendered outstanding services to the country from 1423 until his death in 1468, and was named a "fighter of Christianity" by the Pope because he stood his ground against the Ottomans on several occasions. A famous fortress and Skanderbeg museum in the small town of Kruja were visited on Friday, where there were all kinds of historical things to marvel at. The organisers had also organised a lunch on site, which we enjoyed in a convivial atmosphere before the return journey to Tirana.

In the late afternoon, there was a big train station on the central Skanderbeg Square in Tirana. The Vespa Fanatics Tirana and other clubs had invited and scooter fans from Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and elsewhere came. With the participants of the Giro, there were about 800 scooters on the square and finally, in the presence of unknown celebrities from politics and culture, the parade started through the capital. A seemingly endless band of scooters of all makes snaked through the rush hour traffic. The police escorted us and the locals watched spellbound. The ride ended again at Skanderbeg Square and the evening party could begin. Various bands played on the big stage, the locals joined in and we enjoyed the sight from a distance in a café, where we sacked out for the evening. In any case, the scooter scene in Albania is very lively and active. It was impressive what they got up to that day. Helmet off!

Parade through Tirana
800 scooters rattle through Tirana

Saturday: Back to the sea


After the big party on Friday, we went back to Durrës. We checked into the hotel on the beach, but I'd rather not say a word about the surroundings. Nobody wants to spend their holiday here if they still have all five senses together. The architectural fall from grace. That's why we quickly left and visited a trader friend of ours in Durrës. Ergys Narta is an important contact point in the area when it comes to Vespa. He also runs the Vespa Club Durres and has a large collection of Vespas, some of them very rare, from all eras. We spent a convivial afternoon together. For the evening, he had an excellent culinary tip for us. In the midst of the architectural gloom, he showed us a restaurant where we had an excellent meal. We would never have thought of it on our own. Thank you, Ergys!

And while we were enjoying it, we drew a small conclusion: Albania is a country of strong contrasts. Next to the fat German sports car rolls the donkey cart. In the countryside, someone is standing on almost every corner with a cow grazing at the side of the road. Nature is wild and pristine, but in the cities there are still many buildings from the time of concrete communism. There are certainly some people with plenty of dough, but many more inhabitants who have not (yet) managed to jump on the speeding capitalism bandwagon. Prices are rising, tourists are not exactly flocking to the country. Albania has a turbulent past and an uncertain future. For me it was an adventure and a real experience.

Vespa dealer
Ergis, the Vespa specialist Durrës

Sunday: Journey home

We spent the night on the ferry to Bari and then it was time to say goodbye to old and new friends. However, President Maurizio had organised a farewell lunch that was second to none. One delicacy surpassed the other and with full bellies and all kinds of spiritual drinks in our bulbs, we happily made our way home.

Our thanks go to all the organisers from the Vespa Club Bari. What you have achieved with the Giro dei Tre Mari demands a lot of respect from us at SIP Scootershop. From the start to the finish, everything was well thought out, planned and executed. As far as I know, there were no serious accidents and no unpleasant incidents. You definitely deserve a gold medal for leading this tour. On behalf of the Squadra SIP, I say, "Mille Grazie!"

The route of the Giro dei Tre Mari 2023

Video: Giro dei Tre Mari 2023

Picture gallery: Giro dei Tre Mari 2023

Vespa Giro dei tre Mari 2023 Vespa Club Bari
Ralf Jodl
Ralf Jodl

Ralf is managing director and co-founder of SIP Scootershop. He has been riding Vespa since 1990 and even today the working day starts best for him when he rides to the SIP headquarters in Landsberg on his Rally 200. Otherwise he owns a 180 SS, a 160 GS and a VM2 fenderlight Vespa.